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The Crystal Cathedral: Center of Culture?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 09, 2012

“We can create the most significant Catholic cultural center in the world outside of the Vatican.” Thus did Hank Evers of the Orange Catholic Foundation enthuse when visiting Catholic dignitaries toured the newly-purchased Crystal Cathedral in California.

Would that it were so easy! But a building does not make a cultural center, no matter how great the architecture, and no matter what you stuff it with. A center of culture is neither a symbol nor a center of artifacts (that would be a museum). It is a center of a vibrant, living, active and pervasive mode of living extended robustly through time.

One need only think of the largely irrelevant John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. Let’s face it: Even in the Diocese of Orange, California, where there are certainly many good things, the natives still have a long way to go before they can claim to be second only to Rome.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Aug. 09, 2012 11:08 PM ET USA

    As a Catholic church, it is Ugly as Sin (as in the book). Most Catholics in OC didn't want it, nor the proposed one that preceeded this as a new cathedral. The bishop, now at retirement age, wants to leave a legacy. Unfortunately, this is just one more hideous Protestant structure that California is becoming more famous for (just look at the Oakland and Los Angeles cathedrals) -yuk!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Aug. 09, 2012 9:50 PM ET USA

    We can do nothing in and of ourselves. At least that is the traditional understanding of the state of things. Thank you Dr. Mirus for the reality check. But that "Crystal Cathedral" does have a certain ring to it- doesn't it?

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Aug. 09, 2012 1:24 PM ET USA

    You are right about the JPII Center in Washington. What a white elephant! What a waste of time and money! I can't imagine what the new owners, the KofC, are going to do with it - and as a Knight, I'm not at all sure that's the best use of KofC money.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 09, 2012 12:32 PM ET USA

    I doubt that anyone acquainted with the Diocese of Orange would have a clear notion of what constitutes Catholic culture.

  • Posted by: Petronius - Aug. 09, 2012 12:21 PM ET USA